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DID YOU READ

“Alan Wake”‘s Scary Shadow Play

“Alan Wake”‘s Scary Shadow Play (photo)

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Video games can scare you in ways that movies can’t. The fear you experience watching a movie character walk into a spooky-looking room is very different than the fear that comes when you’re the one making said character do the walking. Remedy Games, the designers of the new psychological thriller “Alan Wake,” know the difference between the two.

“Alan Wake” delivers not only a horror game experience but a commentary on creativity in games as well. It announces its metatextual ambitions almost immediately, when an assailant says, “Cheap thrills and pretentious shit! That’s all you’re good for. Just look at me.” The game, available only on the Xbox 360, revolves around the title character, a former hotshot novelist who’s lost his mojo. After two years of implacable writer’s block, his wife Alice cajoles him into taking a vacation to de-stress. Once they arrive at the quaint town of Bright Falls, Washington, the couple gets into a fight, and Alan storms out. Just as he’s beginning to cool down, Alice’s screams echo from their rented lake house. By the time Alan returns home, both it and Alice have disappeared.

alanwake3.jpgThese set-up scenes, which explicitly deal with mundane concerns like blocked creativity and marital stress, establish the mature, naturalistic tone that runs through the entirety of “Alan Wake.” Even when it’s revealed that Bright Falls is haunted by a necromantic energy called the Dark Presence, there’s nothing in the way of bombast and the gameplay remains elegantly simple. Whenever Alan fights the Taken — the citizens of Bright Falls possessed by the Dark Presence — he needs to point a flashlight at them to slow them down and make them susceptible to gunfire. The Dark Presence also throws inanimate objects and birds at you, and you need to scavenge around for batteries and guns in the game’s gorgeous Pacific Northwest forests to keep yourself alive. There’s some incidental bits of puzzle-solving, but “Alan Wake” is mostly about creeping through an all-encompassing darkness that could, at any minute, coalesce into human form and chop your head off.

“Alan Wake” sets itself in opposition to the mechanics of most stealth action games, where darkness is typically your ally and your weapon. Here, you actually need light to survive. And unlike other “everyman” video game heroes — “Uncharted”‘s Nathan Drake, for example — Wake is no man of action. He’s always outmanned and frequently outgunned. Don’t go looking for a button that throws a punch either, because the guy can’t fight (he’s a writer, remember). He yelps and staggers in a confrontation. He’s the anti-tough guy.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…